I. Guide to using the Make Your Own Gummies Kit with a group
Because this activity requires heat, a stove or microwave is required. You will also need a cooking pot, spoon, plate, refrigerator, and any small objects you would like to use to make molds (optional).
The Gummies Kit makes approximately 15 – 20 gummy candies, depending on their size, so it is plenty for groups of up to 20 students. We recommend that the teacher or group leader heat the ingredients and allow students to help add the ingredients, stir, and pour the gummies. Older students may be allowed to work in groups to make the gummies themselves, if appropriate.
II. Sample Lesson Plan for Make Your Own Gummies Kit
Grade Level: 5 – 8
Science (Ecology, Chemistry)
Introduction: Flexible – 20 minutes or more
Gummies-Making Activity: 20 minutes
Assessment: 15 minutes
Students will learn about ocean life by exploring the properties of seaweed as they make a special treat – gummy candies!
1) Students will draw connections between ocean life and their own lives.
2) Students will understand that seaweed is used in many common food products.
3) Students will understand the phases of matter.
1) Students will understand the many ways in which ocean life is important to our everyday lives.
2) Students will experience changes in the stages of matter firsthand by viewing chemical reactions that occur during cooking.
1) Pictures/examples of seaweed
2) Food packages and labels containing carageenan, agar agar or beta carotene as an ingredient
3) Microwave or stove
4) Bowl or stovepot
5) A few plastic spoons
6) Paper plates for each student
7) Make Your Own Gummy Kit
8) Large sheet of white paper or whiteboard
Carageenan: An edible thickening agent made from red algae.
Seaweed: Not true plants, seaweeds are actually algae, of the kingdom Protista.
Algae: A type of organism that is neither an animal nor a true (vascular) plant, which gets its energy from photosynthesis. Algae grow in water or damp environments.
Begin with a discussion of the plant life that is found in the ocean. Students will be interested to learn that seaweeds are in fact not plants, but algae, which belong to the kingdom Protista. Ask your students how algae that grows in the ocean might be different from plants that grow on land. How do they get their energy? What other life feeds on them?
Now ask students if people ever eat seaweed, and in what foods. Ask if they have ever eaten seaweed. Even if your students have never had sushi, they might be surprised to learn that they probably eat seaweed every day in form of ingredients like carrageenan, beta carotene, and alginates (agar agar is a common one). These products are found in foods such as cottage cheese, chocolate milk, ice cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, salad dressing, margarine and cheese. They make liquid foods thicker, creamier, and more stable against changes in temperature and pH, and over long periods of time. For example, alginates prevent ice cream from forming ice crystals. Have students find food labels that contain carrageenan or beta carotene as an ingredient. Have a class discussion about the foods students have eaten recently that contain carrageenan.
Now tell them that they are going to see firsthand what carrageenan and alginates do to liquids. Ask them to pay particular attention to the consistency of the raw ingredients and how they change over time as they are mixed together and cooked. Tell them to classify the materials at each stage as a solid, liquid, or something in between. Now make your gummy candy from the Make Your Own Gummies Kit together as a class. Because this requires heat, you may want to do the cooking yourself, but have the students watch. Have each student create his/her own mold out of the molding starch, which will be the shape of his/her finished gummy candy.
Have the students create a flow chart showing the stages of matter the mixture passed through as ingredients were added and changes in temperature occurred. Have them list the causes and effects of these changes.
A final option is to have the class create a large diagram showing what would happen if the world’s algae were to die out. Make sure to list outcomes that would affect humans, other animals, our oxygen supply, etc. List as many as you can, using arrows to show causal links.
Resources and related lessons:
Excellent information on seaweed biology, designed for students.
An argument for why algae is the most important organism on earth. Fascinating!
This site includes four excellent lesson plans that further students’ understanding of kelp forests, the food chain, and the role of aquatic and terrestrial plants.
This is an excellent interdisciplinary lesson plan that highlights the many products that come from algae. This site includes a wide breadth of information about ocean life and our connections with oceans.
• We recommend using a stovetop or hotplate rather than a microwave for this kit, if possible.
• Please read through all instructions before beginning.
• Check with parents to make sure all children are allowed to eat the final product.
• Coat the gummies with sour mix in small batches to prevent the candies from sticking together.
• Have fun!